Climate Action Areas
British Columbia is taking action to address climate change. The Province is building a low carbon economy that includes all sectors, that generates opportunities across the province, and that builds our resilience to a changing climate.
The CleanBC plan includes significant actions that help us to use energy more efficiently and prevent waste, while making sure the energy we do use is the cleanest possible. B.C. has a price on carbon, we’re preparing for and adapting to climate change, and we are collaborating widely.
In addition to these cross-sector actions, we’re taking specific action in each of our key sectors. See below for a summary.
Accounting for approximately 38% of B.C.’s total emissions, transportation is an area in which climate action can have a major impact in B.C.
Public transit – Together with federal and local governments, B.C. is investing in public transit, for example, expanding rapid transit service between Coquitlam and Vancouver. In the next 10 years, we will invest more than $8 billion under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for further expansions and improvements. This includes rapid transit lines, new SkyTrain cars in Metro Vancouver and new buses, exchanges and shelters across the rest of the province.
BC Transit has been replacing diesel buses with compressed natural gas buses and reviewing opportunities for other ways to reduce emissions on older buses. TransLink is on its way to phasing out diesel buses altogether. More than a quarter of its overall fleet already runs on electricity.
Zero-emission vehicles – The Clean Energy Vehicle Program provides incentives of up to $6,000 off the purchase of a new light-duty clean energy vehicle (CEV) to accelerate their adoption across the province. The program also supports charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, public outreach and education, and fleet adoption of CEVs. The CEV Program also supports the adoption of zero-emission vehicles in other vehicle classes, including electric or hydrogen fuel cell motorcycles, low-speed utility trucks, heavy duty transport trucks, passenger buses and airport and port services vehicles. Since its inception, the program has helped residents and businesses put approximately 15,000 CEVs on the road. CleanBC includes further actions to make ZEVs more affordable, and to expand B.C.'s network of charging and fueling stations.
Zero-emission vehicle standard – In 2018, the Province announced a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standard that will require new light-duty vehicle sales in B.C. to include 10% ZEVs by 2025, 30% ZEVs by 2030, and 100% ZEVs by 2040.
HOV lanes – High occupancy vehicle or HOV lanes in B.C. are open to all electric vehicles displaying an official decal, regardless of the number of passengers in the car.
Cycling infrastructure – Through the BikeBC program, the provincial government cost-shares cycling infrastructure projects with local governments to make biking a safer and more convenient option for commuters. Since 2001, the Government of British Columbia has invested more than $230 million in cycling grants and infrastructure projects throughout the province. In 2017, the BikeBC program committed $9.25 million for 26 projects in 26 communities.
Active transportation strategy – In 2019, the Province will establish an active transportation strategy to support new infrastructure, education, incentives, and safety improvements for people walking, cycling and using other kinds of active transportation. The Province will also offer incentives to local governments and public-sector organizations to reduce the need for commuting – so people can spend less time in their cars.
Low carbon fuel standard – B.C.’s low carbon fuel standard is significantly reducing emissions – 6 million tonnes between 2010 and 2016. Fuel suppliers must progressively decrease the average carbon intensity of their fuels to achieve a 10% reduction in 2020 relative to 2010 levels, increasing to 20% by 2030. The Province is also working with producers to increase the B.C. production of renewable fuels by 650 million litres by 2030.
BC clean transportation trade corridors advisory council – Key transportation sector stakeholders have formed a B.C. Clean Transportation Trade Corridors Advisory Council to reduce emissions while balancing economic growth along trade corridors. This will include promoting clean fuel sources and improving efficiencies, while aiming to capitalize on innovation and technology to advance clean transportation and support economic growth.
Fuel switching – Switching to heavy-duty vehicles and buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) has decreased emissions in commercial operations. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation allows B.C. utilities to invest in clean transportation and infrastructure by, for example, providing incentives to convert commercial fleets from higher-emitting diesel. To date, the regulation has lowered emissions by 75,000 tonnes. These programs are funded by the utility.
Heavy-duty vehicles – As part of CleanBC, the province is creating a new heavy-duty vehicle incentive program. This program will provide funding to promote the purchase of energy efficient equipment for large transport trucks and expand incentives for transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and fuels in trucking, buses, port and airport ground equipment, and marine vessels.
Clean trucking pilot program – The Province is partnering with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority on a Clean Trucking pilot project to reduce emissions from drayage (the short-distance hauling of goods between terminals and other facilities such as distribution centres). The intent of the pilot is to make the latest in clean trucks and fuels available for drivers in 2019 and then apply lessons learned to other similar freight vehicles.
Weigh2GoBC – Weigh2GoBC allows commercial vehicles to bypass inspection stations using a network of Weigh-in-Motion and Automatic Vehicle Identification Transponder technologies. This provides savings in fuel use and reduces GHG emissions and costs. It is estimated that each bypass saves a commercial vehicle 0.6 L of fuel. Since the program’s inception in 2009, over 1.6 million bypasses have saved over 2,500 tonnes of CO2e.
Renewable natural gas incentives – British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America to have a utility program for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Since RNG can be used interchangeably for natural gas, the related GHG emissions reductions are significant. Recent enabling amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation will allow utilities to expand incentives for use of RNG, so that eligible customers could double their incentives if they commit to running their vehicles on 100% RNG.
Renewable natural gas requirement – As part of CleanBC, the Province will work with natural gas providers to put in place a minimum requirement for 15% renewable content in natural gas by 2030.
Marine bunkering centre – Amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation enables utilities to increase incentives to stimulate the use of LNG to fuel large marine vessels – thereby helping to establish B.C. as a global marine bunkering centre on the west coast. Converting just one deep sea vessel to run on LNG instead of heavy fuel oil could reduce GHG emissions by about 93,500 tonnes per year.
Electric shore power – The ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver provide electrical power from shore to container ships, allowing vessels to power down their auxiliary diesel engines while at the terminal. In Prince Rupert – the first port in Canada to offer shore power – this reduces GHG emissions by an estimated 4,000 tonnes annually.
Ferries – Clean dual propulsion systems allow BC Ferries’ three newest intermediate class vessels to run on either liquefied natural gas or ultra-low sulphur diesel. The conversion of the company’s two largest Spirit Class vessels to this same system will reduce their carbon emissions by about 25%. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, responsible for the operation of the inland ferry system, intends to fully electrify their fleet by 2040.
Adaptation – B.C. is looking forward and making plans to help ensure that our roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure will withstand extreme weather events and adapt smoothly to future climate conditions.
Communities and the Built Environment
From the way we construct buildings, design communities, and manage waste to the way we prepare for and adapt to a changing climate, our communities and the built environment are crucial areas for reducing carbon emissions and building B.C.’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative – One way the province is supporting Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities as they prepare for and adapt to a changing climate is through the BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative, delivered by the Fraser Basin Council. Resources provided by the BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative helps strengthen regional capacity and increase action in local governments, First Nations governments, and the natural resource sector.
Community Emergency Preparedness Fund – The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund is a suite of funding programs intended to enhance the resiliency of local governments and their residents in responding to emergencies. It is managed by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) with $33.5 million funded by the Province of British Columbia.
Community Resiliency Investment Program – Introduced in September 2018, the Community Resiliency Investment Program is intended to reduce wildfire risks and wildfire impacts in British Columbia communities by providing funding and support to complete FireSmart initiatives, including priority fuel management activities on provincial Crown land and on private land.
Climate Action Charter – As signatories to B.C.’s Climate Action Charter, 187 local governments – 98% of the province’s total – have committed to measuring and reporting their community’s GHG emissions, creating more energy efficient communities and working towards carbon neutrality. To help support their efforts, grants – equal to the carbon taxes paid directly – are available under the associated Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program. In 2017, 45 B.C. local governments achieved carbon neutrality.
BC Building Code – The BC Building Code has been increasing requirements for energy efficiency which has also resulted in emission reductions. In 2013, more rigorous requirements for large residential, commercial and industrial buildings were implemented. In 2014, more stringent energy-efficiency requirements for houses and small buildings were introduced. In 2015, energy efficiency requirements for ventilation and secondary suites were implemented.
The Energy Step Code – In 2017, B.C. introduced the performance-based BC Energy Step Code, providing an incremental approach to achieving more energy efficient buildings that goes beyond the requirements of the base BC Building Code. At the same time the Province committed that by 2032, all new buildings constructed in B.C. will be “net-zero energy ready.” Net-zero energy ready buildings are designed to be so efficient that they could meet all or most of their own energy consumption requirements with onsite renewable energy technologies.
Phased approach to net-zero energy ready buildings – In 2018, the province updated the BC Building Code to reference new energy efficiency standards and set a clear path to 2032. The BC Building Code applies to all new construction in the province. Compared to the current base BC Building Code, code requirements for new homes will be 20% more energy efficient by 2022, 40% more energy efficient by 2027, and up to 80% more energy efficient by 2032 - the net-zero energy ready standard.
While building to net-zero ready standards today is currently voluntary for local government adoption, many builders from across B.C. are already building high-performance homes and buildings to BC Energy Step Code standards.
EfficiencyBC – In 2018, the Province launched EfficiencyBC, a program to help people conserve energy and make their buildings more comfortable. With matching federal funds, the program offers one-stop-shop web resources and a single application process to access federal, provincial, local and utility rebates and incentives, including: free energy coaching, installations and improvements for lower-income households, and renovation rebates for efficiency upgrades such as heat pumps, insulation and high-efficiency windows.
Social housing – The Province has launched a $1.1 billion, 10-year Capital Renewal Fund to support the improvement and preservation of existing, aging public housing stock in B.C. Of this, $400 million is targeted to energy performance improvements that will lead to greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Community funding – The Community Energy Leadership Program (CELP) was established in 2015 to support local government and First Nations investments in energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Projects include the City of Nelson’s central solar system, which is owned by community members, managed by the city’s municipal power utility and the first of its kind in Canada. In CELP’s first two calls for projects, the program supported 14 community projects valued at approximately $11 million.
CleanBC Communities Fund – Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the Province, in partnership with the Federal government, is investing $63 million in the CleanBC Communities Fund (CCF) to help local governments and Indigenous communities develop energy efficiency and clean energy projects. The fund will start accepting applications this year for the first wave of capital funding. Projects will have to achieve at least one of the following outcomes: increase a community’s capacity to manage renewable energy, increase access to clean energy transportation, increase the energy efficiency of buildings, or increase generation of clean energy.
Strategy for remote communities – B.C. will be developing a remote communities strategy in partnership with utilities and the federal government. The strategy aims to reduce province-wide diesel consumption for electricity in remote communities by 80 per cent by 2030, while also supporting communities to develop local expertise in energy efficiency and energy generation.
First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund – The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund has, since its creation in 2010, helped more than 115 Indigenous communities pursue renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. These include the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Haa-ak-suuk run-of-river project and the Sci'anew (Cheanuh) Beecher Bay Band’s project that harnesses thermal energy from the ocean to heat homes. The approximately $10 million in funding to date has attracted additional project investment and in many instances created ongoing revenue streams for these communities.
Organics Infrastructure Program – In 2018, the Province launched the Organics Infrastructure Program, a $30 million partnership with the federal Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund to support communities to process municipal organic waste. Preventing waste in the first place remains key to emission reductions, followed by reuse, recycling, and where no other option exists, used as a source of energy.
By 2030 the province will work with communities to achieve 95% coverage of the population by municipal organics diversion programs and services. This is further supported by a 50% food waste reduction target by 2030.
Landfill gas management – B.C.’s Landfill Gas Management Regulation phases in requirements for landfill gas capture to reduce methane emissions and optimize gas recovery. Landfills generating 1,000 tonnes or more of methane are required to install landfill gas management systems with a goal to capture 75% of landfill gas.
Industry and Utilities
B.C. industry creates thousands of good jobs. We can continue to use our clean energy and innovative technologies to make B.C. industries the cleanest in the world.
Carbon Tax – B.C.’s Carbon Tax applies to between 65-70% of industrial emissions, making it a significant driver of reduction and innovation. The carbon tax influences long term investment decisions. For example, several new and existing natural gas plants in northeast B.C. have opted to electrify with clean grid electricity. Beginning April 1, 2018, B.C.'s carbon tax rate is $35 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. The tax rate will increase each year by $5 per tonne until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2021.
CleanBC Program for Industry – The CleanBC Program for Industry directs a portion of B.C.’s carbon tax paid by industry into incentives for cleaner operations. The program is designed for regulated large industrial operations, such as pulp and paper mills, natural gas operations and refineries, and large mines. The program includes two components that work together: an Industrial Incentive that reduces carbon-tax costs for operations meeting world leading emissions benchmarks; and a Clean Industry Fund that invests some industrial carbon tax revenue directly into emission reduction projects.
Clean electricity – B.C.'s Clean Energy Act currently requires that at least 93% of electricity generated in British Columbia for the integrated grid be from clean or renewable sources. BC Hydro currently exceeds this requirement at 98% clean electricity.
Upstream and industrial electrification – Electrification of industry is critical to meeting our climate commitments and reducing carbon pollution. For example, the Dawson Creek/Chetwynd Area Transmission Project has doubled electricity capacity in the area, allowing natural gas activities to be powered by clean electricity and avoid millions of tonnes of new greenhouse gas emissions. The Peace Region Electricity Supply project will make it easier to replace natural gas combustion with electricity.
Efficient electrification – The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation (GGRR) enables utilities, such as BC Hydro and FortisBC, to offer incentives for transitioning to clean electricity. BC Hydro’s current demand management programs already support improved energy efficiency. The GGRR also supports the use of natural gas in the transportation sector and development of renewable natural gas.
Clean technology reduces environmental impacts and helps keep our industries on the leading edge of innovation. B.C. is home to more than 270 clean tech companies that generate nearly $3.7 billion in revenues and employs more than 14,500 people throughout the province.
Bioenergy – With growing requirements for renewable energy and fuel sources, B.C. is renewing its bioenergy strategy, creating opportunities to turn organic waste into products and energy. Key components of the strategy will include: investing in new biocrude refining capacity, technologies and companies; helping communities develop and deploy clean technologies and advance the use of forest residuals; and establishing a Centre of Excellence for Biofuels that leverages the work of the BC Bioenergy Network.
Renewable natural gas requirement – As part of CleanBC, the Province will work with natural gas providers to put in place a minimum requirement for 15% renewable content in natural gas by 2030.
Hydrogen – B.C. has one of the cleanest power grids in the world which is ideal for hydrogen generation. Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can store renewable energy, power clean transportation and the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy future. In 2019, the province will release a Hydrogen Roadmap to identify economic opportunities throughout B.C., including for example, the injection of sustainable hydrogen into the natural gas grid.
Innovation and clean energy – The Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund supports new clean energy technologies. From 2008-2017, the fund approved approximately $100 million for more than 70 projects. Recent investments include Carbon Engineering’s first synthetic fuels demonstration plant in Squamish, which captures and uses carbon dioxide directly from the air to enable production of ultra-low carbon fuels.
In 2017, a $40-million partnership was announced under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to spur the development of pre-commercial clean-energy projects and technologies that will reduce emissions and create jobs for Canadians. The $20-million provincial contribution comes from the ICE Fund. The federal contribution is provided through the SD Tech Fund, managed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
Cement-industry incentives – In 2015/16, the province launched an incentive program, providing $27 million over five years, to support the use of low-carbon fuels to displace coal in this energy-intensive industry and to reduce GHG emissions from cement manufacturing as much as possible. To receive funding, recipients of the program must undertake infrastructure improvements, establish supply contracts for low carbon fuels, and meet an emission intensity benchmark that steps down each year. Achieving the final benchmark will make B.C.’s cement plants among the cleanest in the world.
Methane emissions reductions – B.C. is developing new rules to reduce fugitive and vented methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The regulations will meet or exceed the federal regulations, with the B.C. rules set to reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2025. In addition, the elimination of routine flaring at oil and gas wells and production facilities means the avoidance of significant GHG emissions each year.
Clean Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program – B.C.’s Clean Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program is an incentive program to support the use of clean technologies that reduce GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector. The program offers royalty deductions of up to 50% of the cost of clean infrastructure such as solar pumps.
Carbon capture utilization and storage – Carbon capture utilization and storage is a GHG emissions-mitigation measure that integrates with B.C.’s energy systems to recycle carbon into other forms of energy or to store it permanently deep underground. As the technology to capture and reinject carbon dioxide becomes more economic and the geologic storage is better understood, the Province is taking action to ensure a regulatory framework for safe and effective underground CO2 storage and direct air capture.
Forestry and Agriculture
An effective provincial approach to climate action depends on positioning B.C.’s foundational sectors for the emerging low-carbon economy.
Forest carbon – B.C.’s Forest Carbon Initiative is using a portfolio approach to enhance the carbon sequestration capacity of B.C.’s forests with the rehabilitation of wildfire and mountain pine beetle sites, and other areas where there is no legal obligation for replanting. The initiative aims to increase planting density and the use of residual wood, to improve the use of forest fibre for biofuels and longer-lived wood products, and to promote sustainable forestry practices.
Wood construction – B.C.’s Wood First Initiative encourages the innovative use of wood in buildings. For example, it has led to increased use of sustainable products like mass timber, a product with powerful structural properties but a much smaller carbon footprint than steel or concrete. Together with new codes that increase the maximum height for wood-framed residences, Wood First is increasing climate-friendly construction while growing markets for B.C. value-added forest products and innovative wood construction technologies.
Forest carbon offset projects – These projects generate carbon offsets by improving the quality of our forests and protecting areas that were otherwise designated for harvesting or other land use activities. Offsets from forest carbon projects also contribute to B.C.’s progress to climate targets. In 2016, B.C.’s forest carbon projects removed 1.0 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, providing economic opportunities to local forest-dependent communities, including First Nations. Carbon revenue played a key role in protecting the Great Bear Rainforest by establishing ecosystem-based management and supporting a local conservation economy in the project areas.
Adapting our forests and natural resources – Adapting B.C.’s natural resources to a changing climate is important for maintaining the benefits these resources provide to communities and industries in the province. A 2015-2020 Climate Change Strategy for natural resource governance integrates climate change into the daily business of all program areas, operations, resource management decisions and actions.
Building farm-level resilience – The Environmental Farm Plan Program helps producers find opportunities to decrease on-farm emissions and reduce climate risks by adopting beneficial management practices that enhance soil health, promote stewardship of riparian areas, advance integrated pest management, and increase energy efficiency. Cost-share funding is available for producers to invest in on-farm projects such as fuel switching, renewable natural gas, and upgraded irrigation systems. The Farm Adaptation Innovator Program (FAIP) supports applied research and knowledge sharing regarding climate resilient farm practices related to soil, water, crop, and livestock management.
Nutrient management – Nutrient management programming is being expanded to include greater cost-share funding to support producers in implementing on-farm practices that optimize fertilizer and manure use, which could reduce GHG emissions by up to 100,000 tonnes annually.
Adaptation for agriculture – Together, the Province, the agriculture industry, local governments and other partners are increasing agriculture’s ability to adapt to climate change through the B.C. Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative. Building on climate impact assessments, six important agricultural regions are proceeding to implement adaptation strategies developed through the collaboration. These regions include Cowichan, Delta, the Peace, the Cariboo, the Fraser Valley, and the Okanagan.
Public Sector Leadership
From schools to health care services, B.C.’s public sector extends to almost every community in the province. Public sector organizations are ideally positioned to serve as catalysts for climate action across B.C.
Carbon Neutral Government – Each year since 2010, B.C. has achieved carbon neutral operations, maintaining a net impact of zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its entire provincial public sector including health authorities, school districts, universities, colleges, institutes, Crown corporations and government offices. B.C.’s carbon neutral commitment is a significant first in North America – one that’s reducing emissions, spurring clean technologies and saving energy costs.
Offset portfolio – B.C.'s Offset Portfolio – to support government's carbon neutral operations – has stimulated investments in cleaner technologies in the agriculture, lumber, pulp and paper, cement and oil and gas sectors from fuel switching and from equipment efficiency upgrades as well as the preservation of B.C.’s environmental capital through forest sequestration projects.
The Province’s investments in these projects yield both economic and social benefits. For example, the Province partnered with First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest projects. These projects have supported new jobs in forestry, conservation management, tourism, renewable energy, and marine use planning. Such projects enable a shift from an extraction-based economy to more sustainable management of resources and a new way of generating wealth for local communities.
Public sector buildings – Buildings account for almost 77% of B.C.’s provincial public sector emissions. Through its commitment to low-impact infrastructure, British Columbia’s public sector is leading by example. LEED Gold certification or equivalent must be met by all new provincial public sector buildings. This has raised the bar on construction standards across B.C., home to 30% of all new construction projects certified either LEED Gold and Platinum in Canada since 2007. Going forward, emission reduction efforts will be expanded to increase the use of low-carbon and renewable materials – such as B.C. wood and Portland-limestone cement – in new public sector infrastructure.
Public sector vehicle fleet – The Province is developing a five-year plan to reduce emissions from the public sector vehicle fleet, including signing onto the West Coast Electric Fleets Pledge with our Pacific Coast Collaborative partners to accelerate the move to cleaner fleets. 10% of government light-duty vehicle purchases will be zero-emission vehicles starting in 2020, where an available ZEV model is suitable for operational needs.
Managing climate risk - In November 2018, the Province brought into force amendments to the Climate Change Accountability Act requiring the province to report publicly on how it is preparing for climate change. Starting in 2020, the province will report every even year on the current and projected climate risks to B.C. and progress made towards minimizing those risks.